As I’ve noted several times, my Hall of Fame thing isn’t necessarily voters getting “the right ballot.” It’s just about having an actual coherent philosophy and approach and maintaining some level of intellectual consistency about yourself. For example, Ken Rosenthal and I differ sharply about PED users in the Hall of Fame, but his Hall of Fame ballot is still rigorous and defensible and consistent with his stated beliefs despite looking pretty different from my hypothetical ballot. I’m accused of being Hall of Fame Thought Police, but all I really ask is that you not be a blithering idiot about it.
Here’s a good example of how that all works: Noted idiot Dan Shaughnessy blithered his Hall of Fame ballot over the weekend. My stomach is not strong enough to get into it blow-by-blow, but Jason Collette gave it a good going-over. It’s worth your time, if for no other reason than the insane level of slapdashery on display.
This year Shaugnessy voted for Jack Morris, Curt Schilling, Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine, and Greg Maddux. That leaves five empty slots, suggesting that he does not believe anyone else on the ballot is worthy. Which would be fine if it wasn’t for the fact that, as Collette notes, Shaughnessy voted for Jack Morris, Tim Raines, Alan Trammell, and Curt Schilling last year.
Why no Raines and Trammell this year? It’s not because they got crowded out — there’s plenty of room left on Shaughnessy’s ballot — it’s because Shaugnessy doesn’t give enough of a crap about his vote to even look at what he did last year or to maintain even a shred of intellectual consistency about it. For all of the stuff we hear from writers about the honor and responsibility of a Hall of Fame vote and for all of the stuff we hear about how much they agonize over such an important task, one of the most noted sportswriters of the past 30 years dashes his ballot the hell off in about five minutes.
What a process.
Veteran hurler Jake Peavy has not signed with a team. It’s not because he’s not still capable of being a useful pitcher — he’s well-regarded and someone would likely take a late-career chance on him — and it’s not because he no longer wishes to play. Rather, it’s because a bunch of bad things have happened in his personal life lately.
As Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports, last year Peavy lost millions in an investment scam and spent much of the 2016 season distracted, dealing with investigations and depositions and all of the awfulness that accompanied it. Then, when the season ended, Peavy went home and was greeted with divorce papers. He has spent the offseason trying to find a new normal for himself and for his four sons.
Pitching is taking a backseat now, but Peavy plans to pitch again. Here’s hoping that things get sorted to the point where he can carry through with those plans.
This is fun: The San Francisco Giants recently made their last payment on the $170 million, 20-year loan they obtained to finance the construction of AT&T Park. The joint is now officially paid for.
The Giants, unlike most other teams which moved into new stadiums in the past 25 years or so, did not rely on direct public financing. They tried to get it for years, of course, but when the voters, the city of San Francisco and the State of California said no, they decided to pay for it themselves. They ended up with one of baseball’s best-loved and most beautiful parks and, contrary to what the owners who desperately seek public funds will have you believe, they were not harmed competitively speaking. Indeed, rumor has it that they have won three World Series, four pennants and have made the playoffs seven times since moving into the place in 2000. They sell out routinely now too and the Giants are one of the richest teams in the sport.
Now, to be clear, the Giants are not — contrary to what some people will tell you — some Randian example of self-reliance. They did not receive direct public money to build the park, but they did get a lot of breaks. The park sits on city-owned property in what has become some of the most valuable real estate in the country. If the city had held on to that land and realized its appreciation, they could flip it to developers for far more than the revenue generated by baseball. Or, heaven forfend, use it for some other public good. The Giants likewise received some heavy tax abatements, got some extraordinarily beneficial infrastructure upgrades and require some heavy city services to operate their business. All sports stadiums, even the ones privately constructed, represent tradeoffs for the public.
Still, AT&T Park represents a better model than most sports facilities do. I mean, ask how St. Louis feels about still paying for the place the Rams used to call home before taking off for California. Ask how taxpayers in Atlanta and Arlington, Texas feel about paying for their second stadium in roughly the same time the Giants have paid off their first.